RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Friday that the state is lifting all mandatory capacity, gathering limits and physical distancing requirements, effective immediately.
Most mandatory mask mandates will also be lifted.
"We can take this step today because the science shows our focus on getting people vaccinated is working," Cooper said. "But to keep moving forward - and to make sure that we keep saving lives - more people need to get vaccinated."
In most settings, indoors or outdoors, the state will no longer require North Carolinians to wear a mask or be physically distant.
Cooper said the mask mandate will remain in effect on public transportation, in child care, in schools, in prisons and in certain public health settings.
NCDHHS continues to recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks. Anyone who feels better protected or has received advice from a doctor should continue to wear a mask, Cooper said.
"I have a message for people who have not been vaccinated, and especially those who will choose not to wear a mask. Get vaccinated now," he said. "If you don't listen to me, ask your doctor and do what your doctor tells you."
Cooper previously announced that the state would likely back off of most COVID-19 restrictions on June 1, but expressed that he wanted 2/3 of adults to be vaccinated before he did so. The governor said on Friday that NCDHHS changed its course because of the new CDC guidance.
The CDC released guidance on Thursday, saying that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
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The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
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NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also said people who are fully vaccinated don't have to quarantine and don't have to get a COVID-19 test if they have been exposed unless they have symptoms. Unvaccinated people will have to continue to do these things under the most recent guidance.
Dr. Cohen's remarks
"I am so proud of the incredible progress we have made in beating back this pandemic," Cohen said. "Vaccines continue to be incredibly effective at protecting individuals from this terrible virus. And as more and more people get vaccinated, the results show in our stable metrics with lower cases, lower hospitalizations, and lower deaths."
Breaking down the new COVID rules in NC after some restrictions were lifted
Masks are still recommended for everyone in large crowded areas such as sporting events and concerts in North Carolina.
The state is asking publicly-facing businesses to post signs to remind guests to physically distance themselves and wear a mask if they are not vaccinated.
Businesses can still continue to require everyone to wear a mask.
The Kroger Family of Companies, the parent company of Harris Teeter, said in a statement that it continues to require everyone in stores to wear masks.
"As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC's latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy," the statement said.